Bungee cords add a boost to backpack

MSNBC reported today on an interesting new backpack …

According to scientists, the ergonomic design of the new bungee pack reduces strain on shoulders and joints.

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The cords suspend the load in the pack so it stays at the same height from the ground while the wearer is running or walking, thus reducing the risks of muscle and joint problems.

Its designers said it will allow users to carry an extra 12 pounds (5.4 kilograms) while expending the same amount of energy as when carrying a normal backpack.

“For the same energetic cost, you can either carry 48 pounds in a normal backpack or 60 pounds in a suspended ergonomic backpack,” Lawrence Rome of the University of Pennsylvania said in a written statement. “It is like carrying an extra 12 pounds for free.”

The backpack, which was designed for soldiers and emergency workers, could be useful for children and hikers.

“Being able to move at relatively high speeds is crucial for many professions as well as in some athletic competitions and recreation,” said Rome, who collaborated with researchers at the Marine Biological Laboratory in Woods Hole, Mass.

The scientists have formed a company to produce the backpacks — known as Lightning Packs — and are now working on a lighter, small version.

Could a bungee backpack make a 20 pound load feel like 10 pounds?

Be light. Be safe. Be one with the pack.

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Mike Kretzler’s Lightweight Backpacking Base

This post is a continuation of my Backpacking Gear List Series, focusing on ways to achieve the lightest possible pack, while maintaining some comfort and staying safe while hiking and camping on your backpacks.
Backpacking Gear List

A frequent reader of my blog and experienced lightweight backpacker Mike Kretzler of Olympia, Washington and publisher of PEREGRINATE at http://www.mkretzler.blogspot.com, was good enough to share his list of base gear. Like my base list # 2, his is between 9 and 10 pounds.

His tent and sleeping bag recommendations are particularly interesting.

Here’s his list (by the way, I tried to provide links to Montbell Diamond tent and Moonstone bag, but couldn’t locate on company websites; names may have changed):

•Pack: North Face Slipstream (3 lbs., 10 oz.) – no longer made, super-comfortable, but too heavy

•Tent: Montbell Diamond – https://www2.montbell.com/america/asp/products/Spg_shosai.asp?cat=1201&hinban=2322276 (3 lbs.)

•Bag: Moonstone (1 lb., 15 oz.)

•Pad: THERMAREST 3/4 PAD (1 lb., 2 oz.) –

Total: (9 lbs., 9 oz.)

Be safe. Be light. Be one with the pack.

P.S. – Mike lists this quote on his blog homepage (I like it):

But how the hell can a person; Go on to work in the morning; To come home in the evening; And have nothing to say (John Prine)

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Backpack Series: Under 10 Pounds

This is the second in a series of posts on backpacks that I consider either lightweight or ultralight.
Backpacking Gear List

As noted in my last post, I have two sets of base gear. Why?

I like gear and am constantly experimenting. And truth be told, I am also a little into comfort these days.

The Osprey Atmos 35 gives me more pockets and easier access. The Exped Downmat 7 is filled with down and provides excellent insulation from the cold ground. Ground insulation makes a huge difference in staying warm with a minimalist sleeping bag like the Western Mountaineering HighLite or any similar bag.

Base Set #2
Pack: OSPREY ATMOS 35 BACKPACK (size large) – 43 ounces (2#,11oz)
Tent: Light Year – 1-Person 3-Season Backpacking Tent – 43 ounces (2#, 11oz)
Sleeping Bag: Western Mountaineering® HighLite 35 Degree 850+ Down Sleeping Bag (35 degree) – 16 ounces (1#)
Sleeping Pad: Exped Downmat Sleeping Pad 7– 32 ounces (2#)
Base Total: 9 pounds, 6 ounces.

Considering my original base set 10 years ago was more than 20 pounds, this is not a bad start for someone who wants to become a lightweight backpacker. Because no two backpacks are alike and no two wilderness areas are the same, there is no reason not to have multiples of certain hiking gear, such as sleeping pads. For example, you could add a Gossamer sleeping pad to my list above in the place of the Exped and bring your base down to about 8 pounds. The choice all depends on the weather conditions.

Be safe. Be light. Be one with the pack.

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GoLite Race Pack

GoLite Race Pack

My first rule of shopping for a lightweight backpack is to eliminate all of those 3 pounds or heavier. However, if you’re really serious about being lightweight, you should probably set you upper limit at 2 pounds. There are many, many choices out there in this range, including the GoLite Race Pack.

Don't be put off by pack names such as "adventure pack" or "race pack" because it is mainly marketing jibberish.

I like several things about this pack: it weighs 1 pound, 8 ounces, costs less than $100 and has plenty of pockets, including a big pocket for rain stuff, a wet tent or whatever. Continue reading

Gossamer G5 Hyperlight Pack

Gossamer G5 Hyperlight packThere are some people who deserve to succeed. Because they are friendly, nice, honest, ethical. And Glen Van Peski is one of those people.

His love of the outdoors led him to establish GVP Gear, a home grown business, which Glen and his family ran, sewing ultralight packs while he worked as an engineer to make ends meet. Years later he co-founded Gossamer Gear.

Look for a Fit

I purchased a GVP pack from him a few years ago in my quest for the most lightweight gear. In a few days, I got this beautiful hand-crafted pack. I tried it on and it didn’t fit. Not because of GVP but because it just didn’t fit my frame. I called Glen and he sent me another size pack to try.That one just didn’t feel right when loaded with all my gear (I suspect I was trying to carry too much at the time). Finally, Glen sent me a third pack to try. Nothing worked, so I gave up.

Glen was just absolutely great in trying to help me get the right pack. And didn't hassle me when I couldn't find what I wanted.

Then I kind of lost track of GVP. Checking out the August issue of Backpacker Magazine, I kept seeing ads for Gossamer Gear. I checked a little further and sure enough, it is Glen Van Peski’s company with co-founder Grant Sible. I think we are lucky he stuck with the business and now offers incredibly lightweight gear. Among them is the G5 Hyperlight Pack , a sleek 7.5 ounce model that weighs in at 7.8 – 9.4 ounces (depending on size) and costs just $105.

Continue reading

Choosing a lightweight backpack

Lightweight backpacking for beginnersOutfitting yourself for backpacking can feel like an overwhelming task. There are so many choices. Too many, I think. So how do you start?

Using one of two criteria, “light” (under three pounds) or “ultralight” (1 pound or less), you can reduce the number of choices by 80-90 per cent. Backpacker Magazine, either the hard copy or the online edition, is a good place to find the lists of features and weights  of a large number of packs.

Ignore the guides, like those in Backpacker Magazine, that categorize packs into daypacks, weekend packs, and weeklong packs.  Ultralight and light backpackers can carry everything they need for a week or more in a so-called “weekend” pack, typically about 2000-2500cc's.

Next, use the Web to find local outdoor stores that carry the packs you have selected to check out. Add some weight (stores usually have weighted bags for stuffing into packs) to get a feel for the pack and the fit.

Continue reading